"Masters" in Miami gave domestic fans a curious confrontation. For the first time in the semifinals of the tournament, two Russians were to meet - Karen Khachanov and Daniil Medvedev. The favorite was the latter, who at the start of the season gained a terrific momentum and won trophies in Rotterdam, Doha and Dubai.
However, the opponent was not going to give up. In Miami, he felt confident in himself and also knocked out the third racket of the planet Stefanos Tsitsipas. He also made it to the semifinals of the Masters for the first time since 2019 and rose to 11th place in the ATP rankings. And the possible success in the match with his compatriot raised him to the coveted top 10. As an example for himself, the tennis player saw Carlos Alcaras. The fact is that in the decisive game at the previous ATP 1000 tournament in Indian Wells, the Spaniard did not leave the Russian a chance, giving him only five games - 6: 3, 6: 2.
But on Medvedev's side were the statistics of personal meetings. At the adult level, they fought three times, and in two cases Daniel was stronger. In 2019, he beat Karen in the semifinals in Montreal, and earlier this year he won the quarterfinals in Adelaide. Khachanov has only one success – in the semifinals of the Kremlin Cup-2018. Also, the Russians met at the youth tournament in Milan, but even there Medvedev celebrated the victory. At the same time, he admitted that playing with a friend is even more difficult, since they know everything about each other.
As a result, Khachanov's words did not diverge from the deed. He tried to act in a variety of ways and took advantage of the opponent's mistakes. Fortunately, there were enough of them in the first set. Medvedev made 11 unforced errors against four for his opponent, as well as four doubles (none for Karen). Last but not least, the serve at first also worked like clockwork for the 11th racket of the planet. Even if he did not win points first, the second usually put a point (75%). He allowed Daniil to score his first point on the reception only in the eighth game. However, this turned into a debut break, which almost turned out to be fateful.
With the score 5-3, the favorite served for the game and had a great opportunity to finish it quickly, but suddenly flinched. For example, in the beginning he made a double, and then shot into the net from the forehand. Nevertheless, Medvedev coped with nerves and even earned a setball, but in the decisive moment he again made a double and allowed his counterpart to return to the fight.
After that, the opponents confidently took their serve and finished the game to the tiebreaker. There was also a much richer experience of Daniil holding such important matches. He gathered himself and began to calmly take his own, while his compatriot, on the contrary, began to give him chances. For example, at 2-2, Karen made a mistake from the backhand and allowed his opponent to take the lead. And khachanov himself gave the decisive point to his counterpart, punching into the net out of the blue.
It seemed that having suffered a disappointing defeat, he could flinch and stop resisting. In fact, the tennis player, on the contrary, gathered himself and played much more confidently. But Medvedev clearly did not expect such a charge from his compatriot to fight and allowed himself relaxation, for which he was instantly punished.
Khachanov's main weapon was a great serve, which in the second game worked even better. So, in the first, he won an incredible 88% of the points. As a result, in three games, he beat a formidable opponent to zero. The start of the set turned out to be a failure for Daniil. He immediately allowed the opponent to make a break and soon lost - 0: 3.
In such a situation, it was not easy to escape. Moreover, the favorite did not set unsolvable tasks at the reception. He missed the only opportunity to take someone else's serve at 1-3, when he did not convert a break point. After that, it became clear that Khachanov would not miss his own. He calmly prevailed, 6-3.
At the start of the final game, there was a feeling that the favorite could really suffer an unexpected defeat. He continued to make gross mistakes one after another and could not cope with himself. Perhaps the turning point was Karen's unrealized breakpoint in the first game. By winning it, Medvedev regained his self-confidence, while his opponent became nervous.
And the counterpart finally set up his own serve and did not give his opponent any more chance to take it. But Daniil himself made a largely fateful break at 2-1. Khachanov here also could not cope with the pressure: he allowed unforced marks during protracted draws and gave his compatriot key points.
In turn, the fifth racket of the planet played much more relaxed and bolder. He began to literally chase his opponent around the corners with his trademark powerful shots, and also recorded five aces (a total of 13). True, at the reception he still did not get much, but one break was enough to put a point - 6: 3.
Thus, Medvedev beat his counterpart for the third time in his career. He also made it to a crucial matchup for the fifth tournament this season and the second Masters in a row. Now he has the opportunity to win a trophy in Miami for the first time in his career.
To Daniel's credit, after the end of the confrontation, he first of all hurried to thank his friend.
"It's a great match, he played really cool. Just a little bit lucky. It's back and forth," he consoled his comrade.